We knew the Rays were going to take a step back defensively when they signed Johnny Damon to replace Gold Glover Carl Crawford in left field. Unfortunately for Rays fans, the difference became pretty clear during yesterday’s Opening Day loss to Orioles.
Damon sprinted to catch up with a ball that was hit to the left center field gap by Brian Roberts in the top of the fifth inning. He went into a slide and then tried to transfer the ball to center fielder B.J. Upton, but let’s just say that didn’t work out too well. It went for a two-run triple.
As Damon told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, the play was bizarrely reminiscent of the time Manny Ramirez infamously cut off Damon’s throw at Fenway Park.
“We were trying to do that triple cutoff man again,” Damon said. “Manny’s not out there, so I thought I would try it with B.J.”
Hey, at least Damon has a sense of humor about the whole thing. Have to give him credit for that.
You can watch the play here or just keep reliving it in GIF form. It has no doubt affected my productivity this morning.
The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.
Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.
The team has yet to confirm the deal.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.